This is where I lured my date
I don't remember much about my first dinner with Jeff Henderson, except the fact that I was too nervous to pay attention to anything he said. I also ate like a bird in those days, and even more so when I was wound up (which I was about something or other, most of the time.)
Jeff and I would enjoy many more dinners together, and one time he commented on the paltriness of my food tray, which consisted of a bare dinner plate with one thin slice of ham accompanied by a side dish of about three lettuce leaves and a glass of milk.
"Is that all you're having, Tom?" he asked. I didn't even understand the question. How could ANYONE eat at a time like this? Of course it was usually a "time like this" for no one but me.
Returning to the topic of our first dinner date, although I barely listened to most of what Jeff said because I couldn't focus, I did manage to keep my ears perked up for clues to such relevant items as "does he like girls?" and "where does he spend his evening hours?" While his like or dislike for females remained frustratingly obscure to me, I did manage to remember that he worked in a small student-run snack bar on campus every Friday night.
And so of course, the Friday after I learned this precious gem of a tidbit, I suddenly became hungry for a snack at about 8:30 - or a half hour before the snack bar was to close.
"Hey, Tom! How's it going?" Jeff called out from behind the counter when I entered the all but deserted snack bar.
"Hey Jeff, not too much, how about you? Working much longer?"
"Nah, I'm just about to close this place down. Want something to eat?"
Of course I wasn't able to eat a thing, but I did stand next to the counter, making small talk about God-knows-what for the next 20 minutes. I'm actually quite proud of my ability to become social upon demand. Normally, given the choice, I keep my nose in a book or glued to the TV set or in the face of someone who's known me for 20 years. I've never felt comfortable talking to new people.
But when you're paying me a salary, or scaring me to death because I like you and really want you to like me, I can become quite the empty conversationalist. Comes in handy in my sales-related work. And it used to come in handy when I was still dating. Or trying to date.
I rambled on at Jeff about miscellaneous topics until he had his coat on and was shutting off the lights. I simply walked with him to the exit and out into the night, as if we had planned it all along.
"What are you up to now, Jeff?" I asked.
"I don't know, really, what about you?" he replied, proving to me that God did in fact exist.
"Well, my roommates are away and I was thinking of lighting up a joint and chilling out...want to come?"
I was just a little bit of a pothead in those days, which is odd, considering what a bundle of nerves I usually was. It makes me afraid to think of what the world could have been like for me without the wacky tobacky to even out the rough edges.
And although I don't remember doing so specifically, I must have vetted Jeff beforehand for his position on marijuana, or else I never would have asked a question like that.
"Sure, that sounds good!"
Off I went with Jeff to my dorm room, happy yet beside myself in the knowledge that my roommates were out of town for the weekend.
....to be continued.......